FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. The seventh-ranked University of Arkansas gymnastics team faces a tough Southeastern Conference opponent traveling to No. 6 Auburn Friday.
The Razorbacks (6-1, 3-0 SEC) are in the midst of one of the best seasons in the seven-year history of the program but Auburn (3-3, 1-2 SEC) has been equally as good.
“Our teams are very similar,” said Arkansas co-head coach René Cook. “We know we’re going to have to go in there and hit every routine and even then, we know our best might not be good enough. We’re going to keep it simple and focus on one thing at a time.”
“Things were a little rough at Kentucky,” said Arkansas co-head coach Mark Cook referring to the most recent meet. “We spent this week just trying to get back on task. The team has really refocused and we’re ready for the meet at Auburn.”
The Razorbacks have won four consecutive dual meets with junior Casey Jo Magee and freshman Jaime Pisani leading the way.
Magee won five consecutive all-around titles with Pisani picking up her career first title last week at Kentucky. The duo has earned three SEC Weekly honors and Pisani enters the Auburn meet as the reigning SEC Freshman Gymnast of the Week.
The Tigers, meanwhile, have steadily climbed in the rankings and are No. 6 this week averaging 196.175. The Tigers have wins over Illinois-Chicago, Iowa State and LSU but their losses to Alabama and Florida couldn’t have been closer. Auburn also lost at Georgia Sunday.
The teams are ranked sixth and seventh and are pretty balanced throughout. This week, Arkansas’ Magee is fifth in the nation as an all-arounder. Auburn’s A.J. Mills and Lindsey Puckett are tied for sixth. Puckett is No. 4 on vault and Arkansas’ top vaulter is Michelle Stout who is No. 14. Magee is No. 14 on bars followed by Mills who is No. 20. Magee ranks No. 9 on beam, while Mills is No. 16. Auburn’s Rachel Inniss is ranked seventh on floor and Arkansas’ Pisani is No. 16 overall this week.
It’s hard to imagine but Arkansas has reached the mid-point of the season. The Razorbacks have four regular-season meets, two at home, remaining. Arkansas hosts No. 3 Georgia next weekend, travels to No. 11 LSU, followed by the final home regular season meet with No. 15 Minnesota March 6. The Razorbacks travel to No. 50 TWU before the SEC Championship in Nashville, Tenn., March 21.
The season continues as the Razorbacks host the 2009 NCAA South Central Championship in Barnhill Arena April 4.